Packs: Strength in Numbers – written and illustrated by Hannah Salyer

 Packs: Strength in Numbers – written and illustrated by Hannah Salyer,  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9781328577887, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  This is Salyer’s first picture book and it’s great to see such a talented new artist. Her subject is animal packs and how various creatures utilize their numbers to execute winning behavioral strategies. We learn that many mongooses make a mob and that they sleep in a protective cluster. Wildebeest use their “numbers as a shield to keep predators at bay.” The illustrations alternate between colorful cut paper, colored pencils and acrylic paint (when focusing on herds) and a single animal in elegant blue gouache with obvious brushstrokes, always rendered in a consistent indigo blue. The recurring theme of strength in numbers ends with the proclamation (over a multi-ethnic, multi-aged group of humans) “All together…we are better!”  The book includes a numbered guide to all the animals in the book and a list for “Further Reading”, along with a message encouraging activism to fight climate change and habitat loss. Handsome endpapers open with a herd of indigo elephants and close with indigo human bike riders.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Some of the pack terms are important (corals are called and act like a colony) but no one really calls a group of flamingos a flamboyance; we just refer to them as a flock. The information presented felt slightly random. The bat section will give students useful info about echolocation, but I did not learn why American crocodiles nestle close together when they bask on river banks.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a nice picture book for younger children still being read to who’d like a few animal facts. If you are a Steve Jenkins’ fan (and who isn’t?) this book seems inspired by his work.

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? It could go in nonfiction (591.5) or with picture books where it might be easier to discover. 

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No, but I’m eager to see her next book!

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: January 15, 2019


This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, Animals, Hannah Salyer and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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